Creating Authentic Community For Your Adventure Brand with Facebook Groups

You likely have noticed over the past couple of years that Facebook’s organic reach on your business page has weakened. This is true for most businesses and is due to Facebook’s platform changes. One of the platform’s features that has really picked up and become a stronghold for engagement is Facebook Groups.

Facebook has been emphasizing the social community building aspect of their “Groups” function, in light of an onslaught of negative press for the platform. For instance, 8 out of 20 of the commercials Facebook ran in the past year were focused solely on the call to action to “find your facebook group”. Even the coveted (and highly expensive) Super Bowl spot was an effort to drive viewers to Facebook Groups with a few of the groups mentioned pertaining to the outdoors.

Facebook Commercial Screen Shot

It is clear that Facebook is prioritizing posts that spark engagement and conversation in your newsfeed such as Facebook Group posts. Facebook is prioritizing group notifications and has even shifted recently to giving valuable real estate on the platform to groups now with an entire feed for the groups you are a part of.

Quick Look: 

Did You Know:

Facebook is still known as the “King of Social Media.” With many other platforms becoming popular, good-ole Facebook still holds the floor with almost 3 billion users. Facebook is currently reaching over 60% of daily internet users. Harnessing the power of Facebook and the potential engagement already available can be a massive sales opportunity for your business.

What is a Facebook Group and How Does it Differ From Your Business Page?

The virtual world of Facebook can be a bit convoluted, so let’s break down the exact difference between Facebook Groups and Business Pages…  

Your Facebook Business page is the official public-facing page for your business. This page is virtually visible to anyone on the internet, giving business updates, your business hours, your catalog of services or product shop and thoughtful posts that anyone on facebook can view.  This is the place where you speak from the voice of the brand out to your page followers.

A Facebook Group, on the other hand, is a two-way (or more) communication zone.  Groups can be private or public. This is a place to cultivate community between your loyal customers, and yes, even with potential customers.  This is a place where you can speak directly to your engaged customers or tour participants, and they can converse together as well.  Unlike Facebook Pages, on a Facebook Group you can vet your group members before they join by adding a series of questions they have to answer when they “request to join”. Questions typically used are: “Have you joined our company on a tour before?”, “What upcoming tour have you booked?”, and so on. You can also boot members out of the group if they don’t behave, or as in the case of one of our clients, a competitor snuck into their group and started marketing his own tours. Audacious? Yes! But, you’re in control with your Facebook Group. (You can block them from your business page, too.)

For Example:

Here is an example from one well known brand that has created an astounding community 3-million strong in their facebook group…

Instant Pot Business Page

Instant pot has 333,260 followers on their Business page and average engagement on a post put out by Instant Pot with a recipe.

Instant Pot Facebook Group

3 million members strong! A place where current users and potential customers convene to discuss their favorite recipes and the ways they are using this product.  The post above from Instant Pot was great but who can deny the power behind a devoted customer posting about their own favorite, successful instant pot creation.

Possible Ways of Using Facebook Groups For Adventure Brands

Facebook Groups are most effective because they already harness the power of your most valuable assets, your current customers, but in a place where you still can control the narrative. Facebook Groups are first and foremost a social community setting but can also be a place for your business to gain key insight into what the customer is looking for and thinking. They can become a treasure trove of earned content, a place to poll for direct feedback, and a place to test potential new items or services. 

PRO TIP:  Keep In Mind

Do a temperature check before starting your Facebook group. Is there controversy currently brewing with having to reschedule trips and customers are struggling to reach you through regular ways of communication? That’s probably not the time to start an open group unless you want them unloading their complaints in the group, especially if you do not have someone on staff who can be a responsive admin to make sure that things stay in control. On the flip side, this could also be a great place to speak very candidly to your current customers to communicate clearly about issues such as postponement or refund information.

Examples Uses of Facebook Groups For Adventure Travel Include…

  • A Fan Page For Your Past & Prospective Customers

Many tour providers make Groups as the “ X Fan page” or “X Brand Community”.  This is a place where past participants dream and drop their personal photos from their past trip, current customers prep for a tour and ask questions of past participants, and the brand can prep those departing for upcoming trips/ ask for feedback from the community.  For example Alpaca Expeditions has a highly engaged, 4.5k member facebook group for those who have been on trips with them or who are booked and prepping for their upcoming trips.  Members of the group reach out for trip preparation insights and ideas, reminiscing on tours gone by, and just general funny content for the like-minded to enjoy.  They have truly created a special community for their customers that is its own self contained ecosystem.

  • A Community Of Devoted Product Users

    • Similar to the Instant Pot example above, this category is for those who have a product.  This is a place where your customers can share their experiences using the product, the unique ways that they use it, help each other troubleshoot possible issues, and be a way for you to learn all of the ways you might not even know that your product is being used. For example Solo Stove has a facebook group community that is 8.4K strong. The community shares photos of their bonfire set ups, ask for advice on how to use the product, share their “hacks”, and the brand joins in on the conversation every once in a while with special offers for these engaged fans.
  • Building an Online Community For Your Destination in Order to Reach Your Target Demographic

This is my favorite example because it is a community-building work around for those who may not already have a large audience or customer base.  If your particular adventure or travel brand operates out of a specific community, you could start a group for those who love and frequent that area.  Say you are a tour guide or tubing operation out of a small town; you create a “We <3 X town” facebook group,  and you get to control the narrative.  You can watch this group grow and put your destination on the map, all while using this audience to gather insights and socially promote visitation to your business.  

I have seen this in action by a small shop in my town who created a facebook group dedicated to our tourism based town. The group is around 20,000 people strong with out of this world engagement.  They reap the benefits of an increase of traffic to the town plus promote their shop as a place to visit in the group.  This is something that a lot of tourism boards create but if they have not created one in your area yet, have at it! 

  • For A Cause You Want to Promote or A Community You Believe In Fostering

Maybe you already have an engaged community, but you want to further a specific cause or mission. National Geographic is a great example of this. They already have a massive community, of all demographics but have started a Facebook Group called Women of Impact. Within this Facebook Group, National Geographic gives women a platform in what they call “celebrating world-shaping powerhouses.” This Facebook Group encourages anyone, who is particularly interested in the women that broke barriers, to join.

In Closing: Facebook Groups Rocked it in a Pandemic World.

The importance of Facebook groups have been further emphasized in this pandemic world. Facebook Groups has grown memberships 3.3x this past spring, for everything from bread making, to hobby farming, to dreaming about the far away places to which we cannot yet travel.  It’s time for your adventure travel brand to foster an authentic community that serves your current customer, creates new followers, and acts as a sounding board for your company.  Ready to start up your facebook group? Follow Facebook’s instructions for set up and remember that social media is first and foremost… social! Have fun building your adventure travel community!

Want more resources specific to marketing for outdoor and adventure travel companies?

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